About Mark W. Olofson

Mark is in the third year in the EDLP Ph.D. program at the University of Vermont. His research interests include modeling teacher knowledge in technology-rich learning environments, the effects of adverse childhood experiences and residential mobility on early learners, and the globalization of public school privatization policies. When he isn't reading, writing, or discussion education, Mark enjoys backpacking, whitewater paddling, and bicycle touring.

Propensity Score Methods: Working with Natural Experiments

In the natural sciences, experimentation is understood to be at the foundation of how the work of a field is conducted. However, in the social sciences, experimentation can be more difficult. Instead of working with lasers or minerals or lab rats, we work with human beings situated in their worlds. The idea of conducting a scientific experiment on people may seem simple, but it gets difficult quickly as we start to plan it. In order to make a strong comparison, we would need individuals who are identical on characteristics that would influence how they would respond to the experiment. This is clearly a difficult task. Continue reading

Collaboration for Research

In my previous role as a high school teacher, collaboration was relatively rare. Although I often collaborated with students, meaningful collaboration with my fellow teachers was uncommon. Now, as a Ph.D. student, I have had the opportunity to engage in numerous collaborative opportunities, most often when planning, conducting, and reporting on research. In this post, I explore models, benefits, and challenges related to collaboration in this context. Continue reading

Radical Constructivism

Central to the field of education is the concept of learning. Learning is something we all experience, and although individuals outside of the education field may not meditate on learning daily, philosophers and authors have long pondered the subject. From Plato’s Allegory of the Cave to Skinner’s Walden Two to Illich’s Deschooling Society, thinkers have proposed mechanisms for learning which imply and reflect larger sociological and ontological understandings. In my recent research around teacher learning and professional development, I have found it theoretically rich to utilize a radical constructivist framework. A few fellow students have mentioned working with constructivism, so I thought I would take this space to present a short statement on my use of the radical interpretation. Continue reading

Shifting towards mixed methodologies

Through my lived experiences I have interfaced with the construct of “research” in a number of different ways. Through directed and casual reading, conducting research projects with various levels of formality, and writing to both summarize and report on research, my conceptualization of the construct has changed and evolved. Similarly, my worldview has broadened and shifted. My ontological and epistemological perspectives continue to be shifting and context dependent. Over the past few months I have engaged with mixed methodology in my coursework and in one strand of my research. This methodology is well suited for my current way of thinking as it “encourages the use of multiple worldviews” (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011, p. 13). To unpack how I have emerged at this point, in this post I describe my interactions with worldviews and “research” before my current program of study, briefly consider my development as a student and research fellow at the University of Vermont, and ponder my current questions about mixed methodology. Continue reading

Reviewing as a Graduate Student

Journals, conferences, and other refereed publication and presentation opportunities depend on reviewers to identify quality submissions and provide feedback to authors. Up until now, I have interacted with these systems as a contributing author. However, as I enter the third year of my doctorate program, I have been looking to get involved with the other side of the system. A few months ago,on the advice of colleagues and professors, I volunteered to serve as a graduate student reviewer for submissions to a conference. Recently, I received an email notification with items for review. It was time to get to work. Continue reading

Decentralization of decision-making in international education systems

I have long been interested in education in the developing world and the decentralization of decision-making in these regions. My initial perspective was in favor of decentralized models for the purpose of supporting sustainable and locally relevant economic development. Further investigation into this topic through coursework and my personal research has pushed my thinking. In this post, I would like to define decentralization in this context and consider some of the issues that arise in programs of decentralization. Continue reading

Welcome to our EDLP doctorate program blog

Welcome to Crosscutting Conversations in Education, a blog created by students in the Education Leadership and Policy Studies (EDLP) doctoral programs in the College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont. We have created  this space as a forum for individuals affiliated with the EDLP programs to express their thoughts and insights about topics of interest in education and to reflect on their experiences as practitioners and scholars.

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